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The Recipe Book in Kyrgyzstan - more than just a manual for school cooks

On October 10, together with WFP, we presented the Recipe Book for school meals in Kyrgyzstan - a unique collection of specially designed recipes for making balanced and varied diet for primary school students.

The book serves as an important tool for the Programme on school meals optimization, which provides hot meals to about 200,000 young students in nearly 640 pilot schools in Kyrgyzstan.

However, its purpose is much wider than just feeding schoolchildren tasty and healthy food: "One of the advantages of the Programme is that the children began to skip school less. Believe me, not all students eat breakfast at home. There are children from low-income families. They do not have the ability to eat varied food. If the school organize hot meals, then there is a greater chance that such a child will not miss school. He will have motivation to go there every day. In addition, in the classroom, the child will not think what to eat. He will be full and pay more attention to the clsses. Therefore, attendance will increase," said Pavel Popov, headmaster of the Oryol Secondary School No. 1.

Of course, the quality of education is improving not only by increasing attendance. A balanced and varied diet helps to improve the child's brain activity. And the Deputy Minister of Health Erkin Checheybaev confirmed that: "Not only physical, but also mental health depends on how well the child eats."

"When children receive high-quality nutrition at home and at school, this creates the basis for the proper development of cognitive skills," Nadira Dzhusupbekova, Deputy Minister of Education and Science, agrees with Erkin Checheybaev.

She also added that the School Meals Programme helps to improve the conditions for teaching children: "Canteens with modern equipment that meet hygiene standards, as well as cold and hot water appear in schools, jobs are created, and already working cooks and their assistants can improve skills on trainings".

Ainagul Ablasova, the grandmother of two school students, where the the Programme on school meals optimization is already being implemented, shared her opinion: "I monitor the nutrition of grandchildren in an educational institution. I am glad that every year it is getting better. After all, there was a time when schoolchildren were given three sweets and a gingerbread. "

Well-organized, balanced, nutritious and tasty hot meals benefit everyone who receives it. According to Andrea Bagnoli, WFP Country Director for the Kyrgyz Republic: "The School Meals Programme allows to invest in students, helping to achieve the best learning outcomes. And the Recipe Book for school meals was another step in improving the health and well-being of younger students, the most important "ingredient" for the future of the country".